Williams Lake is putting the cuffs on its municipal policing agreements and earned retirement benefits payment.
During its Dec. 1 regular meeting, city council voted unanimously to deny the additional payment requests by the province under the municipal policing agreements, including $317,784 for earned retirement benefits.
“This has been ongoing and there is a group of northern mayors in particular opposed to the way they audit the funding,” Mayor Walt Cobb said. “Collectively we have a zoom meeting or a conference call on Dec. 17 to determine whether we are going to do something collectively on how we are going to deal with it.”
Council directed staff to prepare a report following the mayors meeting which will provide information on establishing a budgetary policing agreement cost cap.
Cobb said it is a big deal and represents about three percent of the city’s taxes, just for the additional costs above the existing costs for policing.
“There is more coming ‘down the pike’ for policing because their contract has not been signed yet and we don’t know what that is going to look like.”
Cobb said there are 10 or 12 northern communities seriously impacted by the increased costs.
Coun. Scott Nelson said the ‘outrageous’ increased costs, being the result of a federal and provincial agreement, have been dropped onto municipalities.
“That’s just Williams Lake. You can imagine some communities are getting bills that are even larger than this.”
Nelson said the city may have to say there is a block figure of funding the community is prepared to fund and the force will have to deal with internal issues within that amount.
“The days are going to be gone when they are going to unleash these bills on communities. Frankly, we just cannot afford it. Municipalities cannot afford to continue funding policing at the amount they are spending.”
Policing bills are sent to communities without any consultation, he added.
Seven years ago the city was paying $3 million on policing,
Chief financial officer Vitali Kozubenko confirmed currently budgeted for policing is $4,129,250 for 2021, $4,402,166 in 2022, $4,373,252 for 2023, $4,499622 for 2024 and $4,499,622 for 2025.